Tyson´s Travels

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Kinshasa – an Accidental Experiment DRC -July 2017

FullSizeRenderEver wonder what chaos would look like? If you were to organize such an experiment what would you do? Perhaps start with an African city of 11 million. Remove all the traffic lights. Shut off regular water, power and sewage. Forget to pay the police for at least 8 months. Neglect to pave the majority of the streets and perhaps get rid of garbage collection. And just to make it a wee bit more interesting charge trucks a 660USD fee to use the tiny road to the nearest port hundreds of kilometres away.

Well such an experiment exists. It is called Kinshasa.


Casual visitors will note the new six lane Main Street through the business district with its gleaming new streetlights. On closer observation you will notice only one of these dozen or so lights work and that solitary light doesn’t work properly. If you were to come on a weekend morning, you would notice crashed vehicles littered all over what looks like a poorly designed freeway.


As roads radiate out from this main road they quickly fall into disrepair or were never actually paved with actual bitumen. Instead thriving commercial areas are “paved” in plastic bottles and bags instead. This low tech solution cuts the dust and keeps pedestrians from drowning in the deep mud puddles perpetually wet from leaking water and sewer systems. Some roads are in such a state cars don’t dare drive them. The mud so deep that forging through would be suicide if you broke through the plastic surface layer.


Garbage is what visitors remember most. I couldn’t find the legendary 7-story garbage heaps in the town centre, but I did come across an apartment complex where the occupants had been dumping their garbage out the window long enough to create a 3-story pile against the building. In the market, we walked past piles higher then us. You would expect a constant stench as the equatorial humidity rots everything but, remarkably nothing stunk. The people are so poor that they eat every last scrap of anything edible. Not even dogs or rats wandered the street. If you are hungry anything is essentially fresh meat.


They did have “garbage” service in the wealthier areas. Mounds of garbage are collected with tractors and shovelled into dump trucks. Here there are none of the fancy garbage truck and bin services we take for granted. In other areas the mounds of garbage are simply burned every night.


During the day the city is a gaggle of activity. Countless money sellers with big bundles of bills sit at tables and chairs. Often the money is brand new still in plastic wrap. The government is so desperate for cash they simply print more money. At one point entrepreneurs got involved and ordered duplicates of newly printed bills. This “fake” money was identical to the real stuff complete with serial numbers. No one keeps local currency for long. Prices rise so quick that larger stores have a code on each item. Sheets with the corresponding price are stuck all around the shop so shoppers can look up prices. This saves repricing everything every few days.


On the street, sellers roam around selling almost everything imaginable. In the market each area is devoted to a theme. In the makeup area women are caked in white foundation in what resembles clown school. Another area specializes in padded underpants to give the preferred big ass look. Wouldn’t that be a shock, your new big assed girlfriend actually has a tiny bum?




2 comments on “Kinshasa – an Accidental Experiment DRC -July 2017

  1. whereiszebra
    August 8, 2017

    Oh shit – I’d die there 😀

  2. Anonymous
    August 8, 2017

    still enjoying your posts, especially liked this one…grtz Paulo

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